Archive for January, 2007

An Interactive Whale Videoconference


Recently a Science Club did a videoconference with a marine biologist in Georgia to learn more about whales. She focused on Gray’s Reef and whales, particularly the right whale that the students hope to see during a trip to Boston. The biologist showed many slides and movies. She explained complex ideas in very simple terms. She used terms such as “momma and baby” that the students could relate to. She divided the program into several different segments,each with new and indepth information about whales. She constantly asked factual questions about the information she was giving or asked questions as an introduction to a new segment. Even when a student was wrong, she very politely rephrased the answer so it would be correct. She gave several opportunities for the students to ask any questions they had about whales. She was very aware of the class to whom she was presenting. Her ability to tell stories about the whales made the content very memorable to the students.

During the whole videoconference, the longest time in which she did not ask questions was eight minutes during the movie and the slide show. Although the students were interested in the movie and slide slide, their interest was not as high as when she asked them questions or allowed them to ask her questions.

The only part that I felt was weak was when she played whale sounds. I wished she had explained the possible purpose of those sounds so that the students did not just think that they were “weird” sounds.

The students’ questions to her showed that they had heard and understood what she had explained. Most often the students’ questions requested a more indepth explanation of something that she had said.

So what great videoconferences have your had? How could you tell that your students learned as a result of the videoconference?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Refocus Podcast Rubrics to Assess Academic Standards

Podcast Rubric

I am helping a teacher do some podcasts so I decided to look at some existing podcasting rubrics.

I believe that a rubric should assess student growth on a critical component of an academic standard. I believe that technology is a tool that supports student learning and is not the purpose of student learning.

I found that in ALL of these rubrics the value of standards-based learning was considered equal to voice quality, art work, introduction, etc. Student learning of a critical component of a standard counted for 1/6 or less of the rubric grade.

Let’s refocus the rubrics so that student learning of an academic standard is weighted the most, like 70%, and all other podcast rubric items support that standard. We can re-work it so that all items focus on the standard such as Does the art work help convey the standard? Does the student voice quality help to emphasize key vocabulary in the standard? If we do not refocus the rubric, then we cannot use it to evaluate student standards-based learning. A non-weighted, non-refocused podcast grade means little, if nothing.

Do you use a podcast rubric that focuses on an academic standard? Please share it.


© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Formative Assessments To Improve Student Learning: Technology Assistance

Critical Standard Part and Formative Assessment

Has your district, school, department, or team jointly created the formative assessments that everyone will give on those critical parts of a standard? If you have not done so, use an online blog to discuss ideas before you make the actual decision. Use a computer connected to a Smartboard or LCD so you all see what the changes as you make them. If you all give the same formative assessments, then you can have meaningful discussions about students’ progress and the effectiveness of certain techniques.

The teachers can pool their past assessments and the team can modify these assessments to be focused on the critical aspects of the standard. As the teachers talk about changes to the assessments, the changes can be made for everyone to see when an LCD projection is attached to a computer.

The formative assessments will
– be directly based on the standard (ELA Standard 1)
– assess the critical part of the standard (ELA 1: Information: read a graph and write a persuasive essay using the data)
– assess the critical part in the same way that everyone has agreed on. (Students see a graph about a topic, write the essay, and teachers assess it using the state writing rubric)
– be given frequently during the year
– be returned to the students as soon as possible after the task
– contain feedback comments on how the students can improve on the critical part of the standard
– be monitored for students’ progress by using a spreadsheet or grading program.

So how often do you use formative assessments for critical parts of a standard? How often do students get feedback on their progress in these critical standards parts? How do you use technology to aid you in this process?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Decide on, Teach, and Assess Only the Critical Parts of a Standard

Standard Critical Aspects to Teach and Assess

Many educational researchers have advocated that USA teachers reduce their curriculum to a smaller amount so that the their students learn it in-depth. Robert Marzano in A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works emphasizes that each standard has many levels to it. For example, the New York State English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum has only four standards but within each standard there are a plethora of different parts. ELA 1 has about eight major parts which are to be covered in listening, speaking, reading, and writing or 8 x 4 or 32 parts. No one can teach all of ELA 1.

The following comments will use ELA as an example; please substitute in your subject area.

Has your district, school, department, or team jointly decided which critical parts of ELA Standard 1 your students will learn? What will your students be able to do as a result of learning those critical parts? If each teacher makes her or his own decision, then there is no coherent curriculum.

One technology based technique to aid in selecting the critical parts is to project ELA Standard 1 on a Smartboard and have each teacher vote on which parts he or she feels are the most important. You can “x” out those non-critical aspects so that everyone can see what is left. Certainly, no standards should have ten critical parts. Select only a very few that you can actually teach and realistically assess.

So how many critical aspects of each standard has your team agreed on?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Blog as Eportfolio: Part 2- Blogging Logistics

ELA Eportfolio Links

I would suggest having one blog entry per standard. Within that blog entry for the standard, the students has the paraphrase of the standard, the numerous artifacts or evidence and how each shows the standard, and the reflection on growth.

The students enter the blog eportfolio in reverse so the end of the eportfolio goes in first. The title of the eportfolio goes in as the most recent entry.

The student has an index on the initial page where each part of the eportfolio is listed. The students will go in their blog, find the URL for the blog of the first standard, copy that URL, highlight the first standard in the listing of the standards on the initial page, and hyperlink it. They will repeat this process for each part of the eportfolio. The students will save their changes. Therefore, this initial index page serves as a quick jumping off point to any part of the eportfolio.

If the student has less than ten blog entries which is very probably, then they can simply have the blog list the most recent blogs entries. A reviewer can click from the side listings to navigate through the eportfolio. Another more complex technique is for the students to edit the previous blog entries. They copy the URL of this initial index page, write “index page” at the bottom of each eportfolio part, and link that page to the index. They will re-save each blog entry. Then the reviewer can go from any eportfolio page back to the index page.

If you’ve used a blog as an educational eportfolio based on standards, please share your experiences.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Students Learn More With Similarities/Differences PowerPoints

Similarities Differences in PowerPoint

Robert Marzano in A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works had identified that, of all classroom activities, the students benefit most from finding similarities and differences. When the students find similarites and differences, they are using higher level thinking skills.

So how can we use this to make students’ learning more powerful?

In Social Studies, students can compare two countries in terms of their future potential as a world power in a PowerPoint. The students go beyond just copying facts to looking for the different components of a world power.

In English, students can show how the same theme is in two different works of literature through a PowerPoint. They begin to analyze how each theme is presented in the different works and see the variety of ways of expressing this theme.

In Science, students can compare the health of two streams through a PowerPoint. The ph of one stream is a static fact but when it is compared to the ph of another stream, students begin to generate many questions.

In Math, students can show the similarities and differences between various geometric shapes through PowerPoint. When students put a square next to a rectangle, the differences become apparent.
In languages such as Spanish, students can compare the uses of estar and ser through a PowerPoint. By having to contrast these two, they come to see when each should be used.

Students can use the many features of PowerPoint such as arrows, text blocks, colored fonts, and shapes to accentuate the similarties and differences between two concepts. As they dramatically illustrate the similarities and differences, they demonstrate their higher level thinking.

The students’ PowerPoints are robust learning experiences that maximize their learning since the students compare and contrast.

So what similiarities/differences types of PowerPoints have your students done?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Blog as Eportfolio: Part 1- Basic Eportfolio Structure

ELA Eportfolio Cover

I talked to someone who is interested in having her students put up their academic eportfolio using a blog. I think blogging is an easy technology that can be private and limited to who views it.

I think these eportfolio parts are critical (the structure of the eportfolio):

Title page with basic information

Standard overview to see which standard subparts are addressed in the the eportfolio and the student’s self -rating on these standards.
First Standard
– How the student understands the standard
– Multiple artifacts or evidence to demonstrate the standard and how each artifact demonstrates the standard
– Reflection on each standard (What the student knew, learned, and needs to learn)

Second Standard
– How the student understands the standard
– Multiple artifacts or evidence to demonstrate the standard and how each artifact demonstrates the standard
– Reflection on each standard (What the student knew, learned, and needs to learn)

Continue for each additional state, national or 21s century skill standard

An overall statement that shows how the student sees all the standards combined to produce a good English (Math, Social Studies, Math, etc) student.

Are their other parts of an eportfolio that you feel should be included?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


RSS Education with Technology

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